Fern Ridge Day One of Three


I guess you might say, we’re ALL a year older.  A year older than I thought I was ever gonna’ get, anyhow.  So, I had this hairball idea.  As many as could be persuaded, should bring their boats, crawl out from under their rocks, and assemble in the sunshine.  Like old times.  It’s still early for the season, most would suggest.  But.  The target of discussion is a modest-sized lake in the west-central Oregon hill country.  Gently rolling uplands from the Willamette River.  Nearly a hundred years ago the Feds showed up and built a dam across several creeks.  Pretty much, the notion was to flood and bury some of the locals’ farms and houses in a few fathoms of water and mud—so folks downstream in the Big City, Portland, could be protected from annual floods.  A place to corral, and store, some of that legendary Oregon Mist.
Fern Ridge Reservoir is a charming little pond.  It pretty much all gurgles out, over the winter, when the Corps pulls the plug on that dam and makes a place for the spring rains to be “controlled.”  This particular spring, Mother Nature is a bit behind schedule.  She still “owes” about four feet of the wet stuff yet to be added to the top.  The rest of it is all loaded in, and ready for us.
Jamie the Seadog and I got here just after sundown.  Earl and “Dr. Petra,” had been here most of the day.  Waiting for us, to straggle in.  It’s a long damn way, from AlmostCanada.  Jamie had to drive the last hundred miles, but he’s always happy to help, when we get to “go someplace.”  John already has “Lazy Jack” in her accustomed slip and will be up from Eugene in the morning, I suspect.  Dennis and “Lady J” will be down from Albany, I understand.  Elaine is expected to show up, from Portland, and bring that recalcitrant sailing boat—really too big to call a sailing dinghy.  Val’s gonna bring her Land Yacht from across the Columbia, in Vancouver, and provide a place for her and Elaine to camp out—in the lap of luxury, I hasten to add.  That’s in the morning.
It took Jamie and me right at 24-hours to make this trek.  We sorta’ do a long (about 600 miles) road trip like this one in a series of power naps and driving and power naps and then more driving sorta’ fashion.  It was a hard trip.  Like I was saying, we’re all a year older.  Even Big Red, who has to do all the heavy lifting and pulling when we take these trips.  He turned over 100,000 miles someplace out in the eastern Washington desert last night.  Someplace just south of the Kahlotus-to-Lind road crossing on the highway down south on our route from The Big City—another place we ain’t been in the year now, mercifully, passed.  Anyhow.
It’s getting late.  Jamie already turned in.  And, he made it plain he wouldn’t accept any complaints from me, if I wasn’t a whole lot better rested, and whole lot less grouchy.  I’d better see to that.  Lights out.
Fern Ridge, Day one.
What an almost-complete joy today has been.  Blue sky and sun!  We sortied out, first with Dr. Petra.  Then later, with Lady J.  You might say we’ve been looking at an old friend, in a new light.  The lake.  And, the people.  It’s been a whole damn year, lost.  The gams.  The times underway in company.  A familiar hull just up ahead.  Or, on the quarter. A familiar story, with a new ending, you might say.  Nothing earth shaking.  Just huddling on one and another boats.  Laughing, telling lies, sharing stories, and getting caught up.  A whole year lost.  To be made up in a day or two.  A day like today can make a feller glad he came.  Right Jamie?
Fern Ridge.  Day two.
I could tell, that Jamie didn’t approve.  I was up and poking around at zero-two.  Seems, we’ve got one of our number to remember today.  Bob was such a good sort.  Gruff, and friendly.  As a man might choose to be.  We lost him to the virus.  And, now.  Those of us who remain will head out, find an anchorage, raft up, and spend a little time remembering Bob.  The way that’s a sailor’s wont.  Perhaps, I’ll take you along.  We’ll find space on Walkabout.  But, that’s to come later.  The reason I’m up this early, is how these things seem to go.  A short recitation that was only a vague idea.  It had to be set to words.  And, now that it is, well, mebbe I can turn back in.  I’ll try not to disturb Jamie, of course.

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